Honors Program in Biology

Students ride along in a land cruiser while on a safari in South Africa STUDY ABROAD IN AFRICA - Students and faculty ride along in a land cruiser while in South Africa for a 22-day-long Biology Department-sponsored study abroad trip.

Program Overview

This program has been designed to enrich the undergraduate education of qualified biology majors and will fit with all of our majors and other tracks except Environmental Health.

Many of our best students now participate in research with faculty members, and this program provides a formal mechanism for that work to be recognized and integrated into their program of study. The Biology Honors Program should be particularly attractive to and valuable for students considering careers in research and/or seeking admission to graduate or professional schools.

Open by Permission to all Majors within Biology

All students who by the end of the first semester of their sophomore year have at least a 3.25 overall GPA will be invited to apply for the program. The application will include a transcript and a personal statement outlining the student's academic plan, career goals, and why she or he wants to be considered for the honors program. The department honors committee will select a maximum of 12 students per year for the program.

Students accepted into the program will take BIOL 484 Honors Seminar during the first semester of their junior year, two semesters of BIOL 483 Honors Thesis/Independent Study, and one 500/600-level biology course. The honors thesis will be based on research performed under the supervision of a department professor who specializes in the student's area of interest. The thesis will be approved by a thesis committee made up of the faculty member directing the student and two others, one of whom may come from outside the Department of Biology.

Students interested in the Biology Honors Program should discuss this opportunity with their advisors as early as possible so that they have achieved the necessary GPA and are prepared to make application for the program in the spring of their sophomore year. This program, though designed for all qualified students within the Department of Biology, should be of particular value to students intending to seek admission to graduate or professional schools. Honors coursework is designated on university transcripts. Students completing the departmental honors program are recognized at departmental commencement ceremonies.

Biology Honors Program

  • BIOL 484 - Honors Seminar - 2 cr (1)
  • BIOL 483 - Honors Thesis /Independent Study - 4 cr (1) (2)
  • BIOL 5xx/6xx - Graduate Level Course - 3 cr (3)
  1. May be counted toward the following majors: BA and BS in Biology and BS in Biology Education
  2. Two semesters, 2 credits each
  3. Students must take one course at the 500/600 level during their junior or senior year. This will be in addition to the biology credits (currently 38 for all tracks) required for the major.

Timeline for Program

  1. End of first semester of sophomore year - Students with overall GPA of 3.25 or more are invited to apply to the program.
  2. Department honors committee selects up to 12 students per year for the program based on the number and quality of applicants and on the availability of resources.
  3. Fall of junior year students take BIOL 484 - Honors Seminar that introduces them to research in general and the research interests of faculty in the department in particular. During this semester, students select a thesis advisor and thesis topic and will write a thesis proposal. A grade of A, B, or C in this course is required in order to continue in the program.
  4. During the next two semesters, students do research on their thesis, taking two credits of BIOL 483 Honors Thesis/Independent Study each semester.
  5. During either their junior or senior year, students take one biology course at the 500 or 600 level.